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How to Choose the Perfect Hiking Boots

Oct 12, 2019 | Capitol Reef National Park, National Parks, Things to do in Utah | 0 comments

Capitol Reef National Park is a great place to enjoy some world-class hiking. With fewer crowds and equally stunning views as other Utah national parks like Zion or Bryce, Capitol Reef is the perfect getaway for outdoor lovers. But if you want to take on its trails, you’re going to need a good pair of boots. Keep reading to learn how to choose the right pair for you.


Choose the Right Type for Your Style of Hiking

Hiking boots are far from a one-size-fits-all solution, and that doesn’t just refer to buying in your shoe size. Different types of hiking boots are designed for different styles of hiking. For instance, the boots you would wear for a multi-day backpacking trip would be overkill for a quick, short day hike.

There are three primary types of hiking boots; hiking shoes, day hiking boots, and backpacking boots. 

Hiking Shoes

Hiking shoes are a cross between hiking boots and athletic sneakers. They offer a more durable sole and thicker, long-lasting material than your favorite running shoes. But they still retain a flexible, comfortable fit that’s much lighter than most hiking boots. These are ideal for shorter hikes or trail-running, but won’t offer as much support for a rugged or steep hike.

Day Hiking Boots

Day hiking boots are perfect for most hikes that don’t keep you on the trail more than a night or so. They have a rugged sole that helps you grip slick surfaces. They may be waterproof or water resistant. Many also offer ankle support, though how much will depend on each individual pair.

Backpacking Boots

Backpacking boots are the most durable, rugged option on the market. They’re designed for lengthy or strenuous hikes. Plenty of support will keep your feet padded even when you’re carrying a heavy load. High ankle support helps prevent sprains and rolls. They’re also durable enough to hold up to heavy use.

Consider Your Materials

Once you’ve decided on a style of hiking boot, it’s time to consider your materials. Each type of materials offers benefits, as well as drawbacks. Some of the most popular ones to choose from include:

  • Full-grain Leather: Durable and water resistant, but is heavy and has to be broken in
  • Split-grain Leather: Lightweight, breathable, and more affordable than leather, but less durable and not resistant to water
  • Nutbuck Leather: Durable and water-resistant, but takes a long time to break in
  • Synthetics: Lightweight, dry fast, and easy to break in, but not as durable
  • Insulated: Ideal for cold-weather hiking and mountaineering, but too warm and heavy for summer hikes

Because there are benefits and drawbacks to each type of material, there isn’t one right answer. Try on hiking boots in a variety of materials to see if you prefer the fit of one over the other. 

Getting the Right Fit

The perfect pair of hiking boots won’t do you any good if they don’t fit properly. Ill-fitting boots can lead to sprained ankles, blisters, and other injuries.

To get the right fit, head to your outdoor store of choice. If you’re buying online, choose a store with a return policy so that you can exchange them to get the perfect fit. 

Wait until the end of a day on your feet to try on your boots. Your feet swell throughout the day, which means that they are larger at the end of the day. If you wear inserts, bring them along as you’ll want to make sure that they fit in your boots. A lengthy hike isn’t the time to stop wearing them. You should also bring a thick pair of hiking socks, like what you plan to wear when you hike.

Try on boots in your normal size. When standing, you should have a thumb’s width worth of space between the front of your longest toe and the end of the insole of the boot. Don’t be surprised if you have to go up a half size or even a full size to get a good fit. The sides of your boots should be snug, but not pinching or cutting off your circulation. Full-grain, split-grain, or nutbuck leather hiking boots will all need to be broken in, so they may fit tight when you’re trying them on.

Spend some time walking around in the boots you try on. Many outdoor suppliers offer small obstacles in their store that you can use to test a pair of boots. If you are able to, stand on a slope to see whether your feet slide forward in your boots. If they do, they may be too big.

Planning Your Capitol Reef Hiking Adventure

Now that you have the perfect pair of boots, it’s time to hit the trails. But at the end of a long day of trekking, it’s okay to take a break. Check out these 7 hiking alternatives you can enjoy during your visit to Capitol Reef National Park.


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